Occupy Wall Street Should Avoid Tea Party Tactics

We don't need that kind of change

In observance of the 224th anniversary of Constitution Day, an organization describing itself as a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions” came together on September 17th and declared that “the one thing … (they) all have in common is that … (they) are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent.” This genuinely patriotic coalition consists of “unions, students, teachers, veterans, first responders, families, the unemployed and underemployed” as well as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party members, Libertarians, capitalists, socialists, seniors, Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and others who “occupy Wall Street as a symbolic gesture of … (their) discontent with the current economic and political climate and as an example of a better world to come.”

These 21st-century Founding Fathers—and Founding Mothers and Founding Sons and Founding Daughters—have come together as the Occupy Wall Street movement. Until just a few weeks ago, they were people who passively accepted the corporate rape of American democracy, the wanton foreclosure of family homes, the rampant slashing of jobs, the political bashing of immigrants, the bloodthirsty warmongering/whoremongering of the military for its corporate pimps, the legalized robberies of the economy by the bankers, and the exponentially increasing richness of the rich on the backs of the middle class and the poor. These regular Joes and Janes decided there’d be no more passive acceptance. Now’s the time to stand up, to be heard, and to make change, they yelled.

But this change must not be a Tea Party kind of change. In other words, it can’t be the kind of change sought by a group with a membership that is 100 percent anti-science, anti-health care, anti-Social Security, pro-death penalty, pro-gun and pro-corporations, 90 percent anti-immigrant (excluding their own parents or grandparents), 80 percent white, and more than 70 percent anti-Muslim.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, consisting of tens of thousands of participants and supporters in New York City alone, is the antithesis of the selfish Tea Party. It is selfless activism that puts into practice the ideals set forth on paper by the Founding Fathers. These ideals are equality, unalienable rights, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They include the basic rights to food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, jobs and democracy based on citizens’ votes, not on corporate string-pulling.

The Occupiers selected Wall Street because it’s not only the financial center of New York City but also of the entire country. And they have made it clear that they’re going to remain there until some substantive, quantifiable and qualifiable changes are made in the American economic and political systems. Those changes pertain to the 14 million unemployed, the more than 40 million in poverty, the 46 million without health insurance, the all-time high of millions of Americans facing home foreclosure, the proliferation of usurious payday loans to low-income workers that result in APRs as high as 800 percent, the exorbitant bank overdraft fees, and the toxic trillion-dollar private corporate debt that ultimately must be paid by the public.

As Forbes’s most recent billionaire list showed, the richest Americans are getting richer and the country as a whole is getting poorer. In fact, as noted by Michael Norton of the Harvard Business School, the richest 20 percent in this country control 84 percent of the wealth. “There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich, that’s making war …” says Warren Buffet who’s a billionaire 50 times over.

It’s time to fight back—but nonviolently, not violently. Violence is for the small number of thuggish New York City cops like Deputy Inspector Anthony “Pepper Spray First, Ask Questions Later” Bologna. I guess he doesn’t realize that he and other officers might be joining the Occupiers soon because the cops risk losing their own pensions and benefits during the next round of municipal budget cuts.

There have been protests in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Spain and Greece, as well as in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Durham and Albuquerque similar to what’s going on in New York. In fact, the protesters in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia said that economic inequality is one of the main reasons for their protest. That’s quite telling because the United States has much more inequality than those three countries as determined by the Gini coefficient, which is the figure economists use to measure inequality. Using that measurement, the CIA World Fact Book reports that America is the 42nd most unequal nation on the planet—worse than Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. Wow!

You don’t have to be a superstar like Radiohead (the band supports but couldn’t attend), Susan Sarandon, Roseanne Barr, Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie, Russell Simmons, or rappers Lupe Fiasco and Immortal Technique to join the Wall Street revolution, you just have to be patriotic and mad as hell.

With apologies to Howard Beale in Network, I close by paraphrasing his righteous indignation: “All I know is that the first thing you have to do is get mad. You’ve got to say, I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value! … I want you to get up right now and go to … [Occupy Wall Street or call 877-881-3020 and make a donation)… and yell I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore! Then [later] we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis [and the corporate rape, the foreclosures, the unemployment, the attacks on immigrants, the warmongering, the looting by the bankers, the exploitation by the haves/the takers against the have-nots/the takens, and the political criminality]. But first, get up … [and support Occupy Wall Street]!”

You can also attend the Occupy Philadelphia planning meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Arch Street Methodist Church at Broad and Arch. For more info, call 267-702-4654. Don’t just support the revolution. Be it.